Springdale discovers the purr-fect pet therapy program

Springdale Country Manor residents Peter Holland and Noreen Chandler are seen here spending time with Hero, a Siberian forest cat, in the home’s activity room. Springdale recently started a cat therapy program at the residents’ request.

New therapeutic cat program reaches residents at emotional and social levels

Springdale Country Manor residents have benefited from dog therapy programs, and now the Peterborough County long-term care home is offering a program for feline fanatics.

On Jan. 13, Connie Coll, a volunteer from Therapeutic Paws of Canada, came to Springdale Country Manor for the first time with Hero, her Siberian forest cat.

Since many of the seniors are cat lovers, the home’s residents’ council recently recommended a cat therapy program. Resident Noreen Chandler spearheaded the move to bring cat therapy to the home. Residents at first wanted kittens to come in, but life enrichment co-ordinator Candice Stewart could not find kittens to visit Springdale.

She then did some further research and found Therapeutic Paws of Canada.

“We have had quite a few people move in who have had to leave their cats behind,” Candice explains. “These are real cat lovers, and we have a niche of people whose needs we haven’t been able to meet until now.”

Hero, who was born in Russia, is a retired show cat. On his first visit, he entered Springdale Country Manor in a stroller with his owner. Residents gathered in the home’s activity room and Hero wandered around, visiting everyone.

Residents spent time with Hero and shared stories with each other about cats they had owned.

“Before we knew it, we had a train of people waiting to see the cat – people I didn’t even know were true cat lovers,” Candice says. “They were over the moon and completely ga-ga for these cats, including people who normally don’t go to activities.”

Candice says residents were inquisitive and everyone was interested in learning Hero’s story. The program proved to engage residents at both social and emotional levels, Candice says.

“There was a real social environment. Pet therapy always has an emotional environment. This was social and emotional,” she says.

Given the success of Hero’s first visit, he will be coming to Springdale Country Manor every Friday morning at 10 a.m. as part of regular programming.

Click here for more information on Therapeutic Paws of Canada.

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